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The Five Main Types of Massage Therapy And Their Benefits

different types of massage therapy

Are you feeling stressed? Tense muscles got you down? Maybe it’s time to book a massage. But before you do, it’s important to understand the different types of massage therapy that are available so that you can choose the one that’s right for you. Keep reading to learn more.

There are five main types of massage therapy: Swedish, deep tissue, trigger point, sports, and lymphatic drainage. Before we get into the differences and benefits of each type, it is important to note that each therapist has their own style and technique variations. With that being said, you’ll probably have two different experiences even though you receive the same type of massage from two different therapists. The bottom line is when you find someone you enjoy their service and they produce the results you are looking for, stick with them.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is one of the most popular and well-known types of massage. It consists of long, flowing strokes that are used to relax the whole body. This type of massage is a great choice if you’re looking for general relaxation or if it’s your first time getting a massage. The strokes are directed toward the center of the body to help push the blood towards the heart.

By returning the blood to the heart, the Swedish massage is able to get the following benefits:

  • Improved blood circulation.
  • Increase muscle flexibility.
  • Decrease the level of toxins in muscles.
  • Relieve stress and reduce cortisol levels.
  • Reduce muscle tension.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massages are perfect for people who suffer from chronic pain or stiffness in their muscles. This massage therapy uses slow, deep strokes to target the deep layers of muscle and connective tissue. This type of massage is often used to relieve pain in the neck, back, and shoulders. Individuals may also request a deep tissue massage because it can help relieve chronic aches and pain in the body. The therapist will use their hands, fingers, elbows, and forearms to apply deep pressure to the muscles, tendons, and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones, and joints). 

Deep tissue massages can help with the following:

  • Reduce chronic pain.
  • Break up scar tissue after injuries.
  • Release muscle knots.
  • Improve range of motion and posture.

Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on relieving pain in specific areas of the body, known as trigger points. These trigger points are usually located in the muscles and can cause pain and discomfort in other parts of the body when they become irritated or tight. Massage therapy that utilizes trigger point therapy can be used to relieve pain in the head, neck, shoulders, back, and other areas of the body. It is often used in conjunction with other types of massage therapy, such as Swedish massage or deep tissue massage.

Benefits of trigger point massage therapy include:

  • Flush toxic waste out of muscles
  • Promote muscle relaxation
  • Reduce headaches
  • Improve posture
  • Improve the quality of sleep

Sports Massage

Sports massage is specifically designed for athletes. Athletes often need relief from pain caused by a repetitive motion associated with their chosen activity; this is why they will often seek treatment from a professional massage therapist that specializes in sports massage therapy.

A sports massage can help to:

  • Improve performance.
  • Increase flexibility.
  • Reduce muscle and joint pain.
  • Reduce recovery time.
  • Re-instate muscle balance.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Lymphatic drainage massage is a type of massage therapy that helps to encourage the natural movement of lymph fluid around the body. This fluid carries waste products and toxins away from the tissues and helps to keep the immune system functioning properly. Lymphatic drainage massage can be beneficial for people who are suffering from conditions such as edema, sinusitis, and lymphedema. It can also help to improve the appearance of cellulite and reduce stress levels. Although any type of massage would have an effect on the lymphatic system, receiving a lymphatic massage will definitely make a difference.


Swedish, deep tissue, trigger point, sports, and lymphatic drainage are all types of massage therapy that can offer various benefits. It is important to choose the right type of massage for your specific needs. This will maximize the benefits you receive. If you have any questions about which type of massage would be best for you, be sure to consult with a licensed massage therapist. Don’t forget you can have massage therapy at home, with our house call services!

Vairo GL, Miller SJ, McBrier NM, Buckley WE. Systematic review of efficacy for manual lymphatic drainage techniques in sports medicine and rehabilitation: an evidence-based practice approach. J Man Manip Ther. 2009;17(3):e80-9. doi: 10.1179/jmt.2009.17.3.80E. PMID: 20046617; PMCID: PMC2755111.

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